93-Year-Old Man With Dementia Dies After Being Pepper Sprayed And Tasered By British Police

Two British police officers who used a baton, pepper spray, and a Taser on an elderly disabled man with dementia at a care home have been given gross misconduct notices and are being investigated for manslaughter.

Donald Burgess, 93, had one leg and suffered from dementia
Donald Burgess, 93, had one leg and suffered from dementia

Concerns have been raised to the police over their use of force against Donald Burgess, 93, who died a few weeks later.

Sussex Police Officers responded to a call to the care home in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, on the afternoon of Tuesday 21 June, after a report was called in stating that Mr Burgess was threatening staff with a knife.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said that when officers arrived, staff at the care home showed them into a room where the man, who had one leg and was in a wheelchair, was holding a knife.

The two officers engaged briefly with the man before one of the officers sprayed him with PAVA incapacitant spray and then struck him with a baton.

The second officer then deployed a Taser before removing the knife and handcuffing Mr Burgess, according to the IOPC.

After the incident, Mr Burgess was taken to hospital for treatment and was kept there until he died three weeks later on 13 July.

A spokesperson for the IOPC said: "Our investigation follows a voluntary conduct referral by the force on 28 June, concerning allegations of excessive use of force by the two officers who attended the incident. "Gross misconduct notices have now been served on the two officers involved, both police constables, along with letters advising them they are under criminal investigation for manslaughter.

"These actions do not necessarily mean disciplinary proceedings or criminal charges will follow."

Graham Beesley, IOPC Regional Director, said: "I want to express my sympathies to the man's relatives and those who knew him. We have advised his next-of-kin of our independent investigation and explained the steps we will be taking. "This will include investigating whether the force used by the two officers against this male, was reasonable, necessary, and proportionate in the circumstances, and in line with local and national policies, procedures, and guidance."

Chief Constable Tanya Jones of Sussex Police, said: "We want to express our sympathies to the family and friends of Mr Burgess. Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.

"We are providing every assistance to the IOPC to allow for a thorough investigation and for the family to receive the answers they need."

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